Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On The Nomination of Tom Perez to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor

Today the Senate will finally proceed to a confirmation vote on the nomination of Tom Perez to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.  This vote continues the progress we made on executive nominees this week following our bipartisan caucus on Monday night.  I am pleased that six Republican Senators joined with Democratic Senators to invoke cloture on this nomination on Wednesday, and now we can proceed to getting this well-qualified nominee confirmed to lead the Department of Labor. 

Tom Perez is a dedicated public servant, and since 2009, he has worked hard to restore the reputation of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department.  This was no small task after the prior administration had amassed one of the worst civil rights enforcement records in modern American history.  Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, Tom Perez has guided the Civil Rights Division back to its core mission of vigorous civil rights enforcement.  He has many accomplishments to be proud of under his stewardship of the Division.  Among them is his successful implementation of legislation I offered in the Senate, the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed into law by President Obama just after Tom Perez was confirmed as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division in October 2009.  Under Tom Perez’s leadership, the Division implemented this important law and brought several important hate crimes prosecutions.  Under his leadership, the Division has also been vigilant in protecting American homeowners against discriminatory predatory lending, and in protecting our men and women in uniform from foreclosure by lenders while overseas on active duty.  He also led the Division to expand the number of human trafficking prosecutions by 40 percent during the past four years, including a record number of cases in 2012.

I have no doubt that Tom Perez will bring to the Labor Department the same leadership and commitment that he brought to the Civil Rights Division, and our Nation will be better for it.  As a former Secretary of Labor in Maryland, and a fierce defender of workers’ rights and civil rights, he is uniquely suited to serve in this important post at a critical time.

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